Hiring an outside party to assist in the search for a new football coach has become the norm in Division One sports, so news that Maryland shelled out some money to find the new head coach for the Terrapins football program is hardly shocking. In fact, the school may have gotten a decent bargain on the extra help compared to the amounts other schools have paid in the past to do the school’s work for them.
The Baltimore Sun reports Maryland paid $50,000 to Chuck Neinas and his Neinas Sports Services. That is less than a fifth of what Texas paid for assistance in the hiring of Charlie Strong and less than a sixth of what Colorado State paid to make the hiring of Jim McElwain (now the head coach at Florida). The former Big 12 commissioner has long held a role in the game and has lent a helping (hired) hand in coaching searches at a number of programs over the years, including Texas, Oklahoma, LSU and more. He was busy last year in helping Maryland eventually land Michigan assistant DJ Durkin and Virginia in hiring Bronco Mendenhall away from BYU.
“Most athletic directors have a short list of individuals that they’re interested in and then it frequently gets augmented from various sources,” Neinas said Wednesday. “My assignment is to confidentially contact people to find out if they have any interest at all. If there is interest I can serve as a conduit between the director and prospective candidate to provide information both ways.”
So did Maryland get a steal? We will see. Durkin is a first-time head coach and there is much work to be done in a competitive division. For a first-year head coach, Maryland may have gotten a good deal on the consulting fee, but there is so much unknown with the final result that can only be answered in time.
Maryland opened its first spring under the leadership of new head coach DJ Durkin this week, and running back Wes Brown was on the practice field and on the spring roster. This is the first time Brown has been seen with the team since being suspended indefinitely by the program last November.
Durkin did not address the return of Brown, according to Daniel Martin of CSN Baltimore. Perhaps Durkin has given the team a clean slate as he comes in to lead the program, which is common for new head coaches (Iowa State’s Matt Campbell is doing this).
Brown was suspended by interim head coach Mike Locksley in mid-November for violating the student-athlete code of conduct. It was the second time Brown had been suspended by the program. Brown previously missed the spring football practice schedule a year ago as he was recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum at the end of the 2014 season. Brown missed the 2013 season as a result of an off-field legal situation that eventually led to charges being dropped and Brown being readmitted to the university.
Maryland may have been hit hard by some recent recruiting developments in the weeks leading up to National Signing Day (Feb. 3), but on Saturday the Terrapins had one of the more interesting recruiting wins this season. Twin brothers Elijah Daniels and Elisha Daniels committed to the Terrapins on Saturday.
Adding to the double-mint fun, both brothers play cornerback and both decommitted from Minnesota earlier this month. Elijah is a three-star prospect according to Rivals. Guess what. So is his brother! The brothers from Fort Lauderdale, Florida ended up choosing Maryland over Minnesota, but two other Power 5 programs extended offers too; Boston College and Iowa State.
The addition of the twin brothers will provide some immediate depth at a position of need for Maryland in 2016. The Terrapins must replace three starters in the defensive backfield, but they do return Will Likely in the fall.
For new head coach DJ Durkin, the first recruiting class being assembled under his watch is already showing signs of planting seeds in the south. With the addition of Elijah and Elisha Daniels to Maryland’s Class of 2016, the last four recruits to hop on the Maryland train hail from the state of Florida, as noted by Daniel Martin of CSN Mid-Atlantic. Running back LaDerrien Wilson and Aaron Thompson also have committed to Maryland this week.
Putting together a new coaching staff may have had some stumbles for Jim Harbaugh at Michigan, but Michigan will retain Greg Mattison on the new staff. Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated reports (via Twitter) Mattison has decided to stay on board in Ann Arbor and will coach the defense under the new defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin.
Mattison rejoined the Michigan coaching staff in 2011 after three seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. Mattison previously served as the defensive coordinator for the Wolverines in 1995 and 1996 before moving to Notre Dame eight seasons. Whether or not he would return amid coaching staff changes at Michigan was uncertain, but his acceptance of a reduced role on the staff could be a testament to the message being sent by Harbaugh in his first days in charge of the program.
Mattison has a history of coaching defensive line, so it should be expected Mattison will take charge of Michigan’s defensive line under Durkin.
Mattison was a key addition to the coaching staff with Brady Hoke as head coach. Last season may not have been a great one for the Wolverines, but Mattison’s defense played well for much of the season. Michigan had the Big Ten’s third best total defense, trailing only Penn State and Wisconsin.
Mattison returning to the staff also provides a bit of stability on the staff and in recruiting efforts, which is rarely a bad move.
With National Signing Day coming up (Wednesday, February 5) recruiting battles are coming down the final stretch with heated recruiting battles being fought this weekend. For many of the top rated recruits around the country, some awkward moments are bound to happen.
One of the top pliers in the state of Michigan recently experienced one of those moments once a recruiting dead period had been lifted b the NCAA. Malik McDowell, from Michigan, had assistant coaches form Michigan, Michigan State and Alabama waiting for a chance to talk with him recently, but apparently one coach could not wait to get his turn for a one-on-one conversation. According to a story shared by McDowell to the Detroit Free Press, Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison walked in and interrupted a conversation between McDowell and Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi.
“Michigan State was here, then Michigan came, they just walked right in and sat down,” McDowell said to the Detroit Free Press. “That was pretty funny. I was just sitting there watching … (Coach) Narduzzi was sitting right here. It just all stopped. Then (Mattison) was like, ‘Oh, is this a bad time?’ It made me laugh.”
Last week assistant coaches from Florida (Joker Phillips and DJ Durkin) and Florida State (Charles Kelly) attended a high school basketball game with the family of Georgia defensive end Lorenzo Carter. The coaches sat on opposite ends of the family at the basketball game, which made for a humorous shot captured by The Atlanta Journal Constitution.
“It was a little awkward at first, but then you just relax,” Carter’s mother, Lisa, told the AJC. “They’re people, we’re people, and you just have normal conversation. It will all work out how it supposed to in the end. But they are good people at Florida and Florida State. Both sides have great coaches. I enjoy talking to both of them. They have funny stories.”
This weekend figures to be just waiting for more recruiting awkwardness around the country, with this being the final full weekend coaches will be able to make their sales pitches before National Signing Day.